RealClearHealth Morning Scan -- 04/14/2016

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Prices for Brand-Name Drugs Inched Up in 2015
Ed Silverman, Pharmalot
Even as overall spending on prescription medicines in the United States rose 8.5 percent last year, prices for brand-name drugs rose just 2.8 percent, which represents a steady decline from recent years, according to a new report released on Thursday. By way of comparison, brand-name drug prices rose 9.1 percent in 2012 and continued to rise over the past two years, although at a slower pace — 5.1 percent in 2014 and 4.9 percent in 2013, according to the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics, an arm of the market research firm.

CMS Proposes Pulling License From Theranos
Carreyrou & Weaver, WSJ
In a letter dated March 18, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said it plans to revoke the California lab’s federal license and prohibit its owners, including Ms. Holmes and Theranos’s president, Sunny Balwani, from owning or running any other lab for at least two years. That would include the company’s only other lab, located in Arizona.

Theranos Episode Is Cautionary Tale
Julia Belluz, Vox
Currently, when you go to the doctor for a blood test, you have to endure a long needle, and the nurse or phlebotomist often has to draw several vials of blood in order to run multiple tests. It can be painful — and costly. Theranos, by contrast, claimed that it had the technology to take blood from a simple painless prick and run multiple tests on that tiny, raindrop-size sample.

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Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) companies are committed to addressing the nation’s growing opioid crisis community by community, nationwide. Learn more about the BCBS commitment.

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Debacle May Scare Investors Away from Diagnostics
Steve Brozak, Stat
Diagnostic technology, which is often at the center of medical care, has traditionally received little attention from investors. The Theranos debacle threatens to make investors even less likely to support diagnostic companies in the future, slowing innovation and delaying the introduction of life-saving tests.

Wide Variation in Hospital C-Section Rates
Tara Haelle, Cons. Reports
While a number of factors can increase the chance of having a C-section—being older or heavier or having diabetes, for example—the biggest risk “may simply be which hospital a mother walks into to deliver her baby,” says Neel Shah, M.D., an assistant professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive biology at Harvard Medical School, who has studied C-section rates in this country and around the world.

Cleveland Clinic Partners w/ CVS for Telemedicine
Lydia Coutre, Crain's
Cleveland Clinic providers will be available to CVS MinuteClinic customers in Ohio for on-demand online and mobile doctor visits through a telehealth collaboration. “Telehealth further expands on our high-quality and convenient service to our customers," Dr. Andrew Sussman, executive vice president and associate chief medical officer of CVS Health and president of MinuteClinic, said in a statement.

Quadriplegic Regains Movement via Brain Signals
Traci Watson, USAT
An Ohio man with quadriplegia has used his own hands to pick up a bottle, swipe a credit card and play a video game with the help of technology that routes signals from his brain to his muscles, researchers reported in a study Wednesday.

40-Year-Old Study Could Have Reshaped U.S. Diet
Peter Whoriskey, WP
It was one of the largest, most rigorous experiments ever conducted on an important diet question: How do fatty foods affect our health? Yet it took more than 40 years — that is, until today — for a clear picture of the results to reach the public.

Mars Inc. Calls for FDA Salt Guidelines
Craig Giammona, Bloomberg
Mars Inc., the privately held maker of Uncle Ben’s Rice and packaged meals, is calling on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to issue voluntary guidelines for how much salt should be in processed food. The announcement is the first of its kind by a foodmaker in the U.S. It comes as Mars Food, the company’s Brussels-based packaged-food division, vows to reduce the amount of sodium in its products by an average of 20 percent by 2021.

De Niro Says He Regrets Pulling Anti-Vaxx Film
Maggie Fox, NBC News
Actor Robert De Niro is the latest celebrity to say he thinks vaccines might cause autism. But decades of study have shown no link at all, and scientists are becoming increasingly impatient with the refusal to accept their findings. De Niro said Wednesday he now regrets pulling a controversial film called "Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Conspiracy" from the Tribeca film Festival.

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Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) companies around the country are undertaking initiatives to help patients, families, health professionals and communities address the opioid epidemic. These programs are reducing the misuse of opioids while ensuring those who need access to pain medication can get it, when they need it. Learn more about the BCBS commitment to fight substance use disorder and help prevent opioid addiction.

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